WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Rotary—long known for supporting a variety of projects and organizations that benefit the community here and around the world—recently began participating in the Community Food Bank of New Jersey’s “Backpack Program,” which benefits families who suffer food insecurity.

Each week, the Rotary provides a backpack’s worth of non-perishable, kid-friendly food to 10 anonymous children in Westfield—only school staff knows which children benefit. The children take these home to their families, which ensures that they will have enough to get through the weekend, when there is no school lunch. The Rotary also provides high-quality, unmarked backpacks to children in the program who have none.

District Rotary Foundation Chair and Westfield Rotary Member Byron Miller first brought the idea to the Westfield Rotary after hearing about the importance of the program to families in the Oranges. Children who are well-fed do better in school, so eliminating food insecurity gives them a chance at an equal opportunity in life, he explained.

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After bringing the idea to the Westfield schools, “I was really glad to see that Westfield stepped up and said, ‘Yeah, we have that issue,” said Miller. Although Westfield is considered an affluent town, he said, “There are hungry kids in every school system. And whether you’re hungry among well-fed people or hungry among hungry people, you’re still hungry.”

Recently, the Westfifeld Rotary gathered food for and assembled “spring break boxes” to ensure that these families had enough nutritious food to get through this week.

Miller would like to see the program adopted by the larger Rotary district, which includes five counties. He also hopes that, eventually, the program will be able to provide for families through summer vacations. Once the program is well-established, he believes the Rotary will step back and let other organizations take over.

To donate to this program, send a check made out to the Westfield Rotary Foundation, marked “backpack” in the memo, to Westfield Rotary, 220 Clark Street, Westfield, New Jersey 07090.

The Westfield Rotary meets for lunch every Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. at the Westfield YMCA, 220 Clark Street, Westfield, NJ, 07090. Guests and prospective members are always welcome.  For more information, visit http://www.westfieldrotary.com.